Choosing a Childminder
What is a registered childminder?
Registered childminders are self-employed
people who work in their own homes caring for other people’s
Childminders provide full or part time care,
this might be day care, before/after school, and/or holiday care
and overnight care (a childminder must have permission from Ofsted
for overnight care). Childminders are often prepared to take
and collect your child from pre-school, nursery or school.
- can offer a flexible childcare service
- your child will be in a home environment
- using a childminder ensures a consistency of
care because the childminder is the only carer.
- if you have children of different ages, a
childminder may be able to care for them all together.
- your child may be able to access free
nursery education if the childminder is part of an accredited
Have a look at our
Family Services Directory for
a list of Ofsted registered childminders in Bedford Borough,
or call us on 0800 023 2057.
Childminders have to be registered with the
Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) if they look after
children under the age of eight for more than two hours a day.
Ofsted registration requirements will specify
the number of children that are allowed to be on the premises at
any time and the ratio of staff to children. A childminder is
allowed to look after up to six children under eight years old
including children of their own – but only three of them should be
aged under five, of these three, only one may be under 12
months. Under exceptional circumstances a childminder may be
allowed to care for two children under 12 months, for example
caring for twins.
Every registered childminder has an Ofsted
registration certificate which indicates the maximum number of
children that can be cared for on the premises – their registration
certificate must be prominently displayed within their home.
The childminder and any other adults (16+) in
their home are subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check.
Early Years Register
Registered childminders caring for children
aged from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday must
register on the Early Years Register and deliver the Early Years
Foundation Stage – a framework for the delivery of quality
integrated care and education for children.
Those caring for children older than five
years and under eight must register on the compulsory part of the
Childcare Register. Childminders caring for children aged eight and
above may choose to register on the voluntary part of the Childcare
Early Years Register
Ofsted inspect those childminders on
the Early Years Register least once every three or four years.
Following their inspection, Ofsted will give
them one of four grades:
||The provision is of exceptionally high
quality. The standard of care is excellent.
||The provision is strong. Children
are well cared for.
||The provision is sound. The standard
of care is acceptable.
|Inadequate Category 1
||The provision is weak. The standard
of care is not good enough.
|Inadequate Category 2
||The provision is poor and needs urgent
attention. The standard of care and/or early education is
Ofsted will also write a report which will
tell you about the quality of the childcare service provided by the
childminder - what they do well and what needs to be
improved. You can ask your childminder for a copy of their
Alternatively you can view a childminder’s Ofsted
, you will need to ask the childminder for their Ofsted Unique
Reference Number (URN) to view their report on the website.
Ofsted inspect a random selection of
all those on the Childcare Register to see if they comply with the
requirements for registration. After the inspection Ofsted
will issue a letter. If the provider does not meet all the
requirements, Ofsted will tell them what needs to be put
right. Copies of these letters are also published on the
When you visit
Try to take notes as you go along, for
reference later. You must be your own judge of what is best
for you and your child, but the lists below may help guide you on
points to look for and what to ask.
Things to consider and questions to
- Visit the childminder with your child in their home. Meet
any other children who will be looked after at the same time as
- Discuss your views on such things as behaviour management,
sleep, potty training and diet. Are you in agreement?
- Consider the accommodation – Is there space? Is it safe? Are
there plenty of toys and books?
- Ask to see the childminder’s Ofsted registration, public
liability insurance and first aid certificates.
- Find out what happens if the childminder is ill.
- Does the childminder use a car? Are car restraints or seat
belts used? Are they compliant with current
legislation? Does the insurance cover business use?
- Ask to see the areas where your child would play and rest and
- Can the childminder give you the name of another parent who
will give you a reference? Always take up references.
General points to
- All young children need a variety of learning
experiences e.g. quiet times, noisy / messy play, creative and
imaginative play, outdoor activities and physical play.
- It is important that for most of the day
children are able to move freely around activities and make
choices. Are both boys and girls encouraged to take part in all
- Are different cultures positively represented
in the toys, books and wall displays?
- Look at what happens between the childminder
and children within their care. They need to be involved together
in activities and enjoy each others company.
- Make sure that the provision meets any
special needs your child may have and that it takes into account
your child’s age and cultural background.
- Will the childminder set aside time to talk
to you about your child? Are you able to see any records kept about
- You should sign an agreement with the carer
of your child but be certain you are happy with its contents.
- It is a good idea to use the provision for a
trial period before making permanent arrangements.
You may find it helpful to visit more
than one childminder. When you feel happy with everything
then go ahead
Do you have a child with a disability or additional need?
Bedford Borough Council is committed to
ensuring that all childcare and early years settings in Bedford
Borough provide a service that includes all children. We
believe that every child has a right to a safe, stimulating and
inclusive environment to enable them to reach their full
If you feel that your child would benefit from
more specialist childcare then please call the National
Childminding Association (NCMA) on 01908 551620. The
NCMA manages the 'Community Childminding Scheme', on behalf of
Bedford Borough Council. The co-ordinator for the scheme
helps to find a suitably trained registered childminder to
care for a child that has a disability or an additional. The
childminder will offer a flexible package, to meet your childcare
needs, whether this is providing full day care or arranging shorter
periods of care according to the needs of both you and your
Fees and Conditions
Childminders usually charge by the hour and set their own fees
which vary. However, the average rate per hour for a
childminder is in the region on £3.50 - £4. You will need to
ask about the following and whether they are included in the fees:
meals, nappies, outings, also about holiday and sickness
You may be entitled to some help with your
childcare costs, please refer to our leaflet Financial
Support for Parents and Carers (PDF opens in new window).
You should use a written agreement or
contract, even for a short-term arrangement. This provides a
safeguard both for you and your childminder. When completing the
contract, take time to discuss other issues as well, such as pets,
potty training or discipline. You may have strong views on some
matters that you'd like the childminder to take on board, and the
childminder may also want to discuss with you aspects of their
Take time to talk about any issue that is
important to you before starting the arrangement. This can
help to prevent problems later.
If you need further information on drawing up
a contract please contact the National Childminding Association
01234 269512 for advice.
Settling in your child
Once you have made your decision, settling in
will be easier for both you and your child if it is done
gradually. Ask the childminder about their settling in
The childminder will have a lot of experience
in settling children. Some children can be upset at first -
this is only natural - but with gentle reassurance this phase will
Many childminders have a trial period for new
children. After this time you can assess whether your child is
happy and make further plans as necessary.
What to do if you are not happy with your
If you are not happy with the care that your
child is receiving and have spoken with your childminder but are
still not satisfied with the outcome, then you can phone the Ofsted
Complaints Line on 08456 404040.
Ofsted will investigate any complaints about
providers and take enforcement action if providers do not meet the
required standards set.
All the above information is in our leaflet Choosing a
Childminder (PDF opens in a new window).
Find out more
For a list of registered childminders in your
area or further information please contact Bedford Borough Family
Information Service on the number below. Alternatively, you
can search online for childminders at www.fis.bedford.gov.uk
Freephone 0800 023 2057
Lines open: Mon - Thurs 8am – 5.15pm, and
Fri 8am – 4.45pm. 24 hours answerphone service.
If you would like to speak to someone face to
face please call on the above number to arrange an appointment.